By Pete Zarustica
Albert Pujols is not the same guy who was once the heartbeat of the St. Louis Cardinals. The nine-time National League all-star with the .309 career batting average is clearly on the sundown side of his career now, his average down to .246 and those 0-for-4 nights accumulating.
But when the old Albert does shine through, he wakes the echoes with his prodigious power. He did that again Tuesday in Anaheim as he blasted two three-run home runs in an 8-6 victory by the Los Angeles Angels over the Texas Rangers.
“He’s quietly having another incredible season,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
His six RBIs were the highlight of the Angels’ fifth straight win since the All-Star break and the team’s ninth win in their last 11 contests. They’re now 42-52 and remain tied for fourth place in the American West with the Oakland A’s.
Pujols hit his first dinger – his 19th of the season – in the fourth inning, then added another –his 20th – in the fifth, both off Ranger starter Kyle Loshe (0-2). The Angels trailed early 3-0, but the Rangers’ lead couldn’t withstand the onslaught by Pujols and the rest of the team. Catcher Jett Bandy homered as well in the sixth, ending with a 2-for-3 night and two RBIs. Mike Trout was 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. His average sits at .320 with an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) of .993.
Angel starting pitcher Tim Lincecum was the lucky recipient of Pujols’ offensive outburst. He improved his record to 2-3 despite giving up nine hits and five runs (only three earned) in five innings. He struck out seven and walked two, but yielded two home runs. The bullpen has better luck, giving up four hits and one run over the remaining four innings.
The series with the Rangers (55-40) continues on Wednesday.